News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE REVIEW
August 26, 2009
Contact: Warren von Eschenbach
(512) 463-0121

Senator Zaffirini Announces New Laws Effective September 1

(AUSTIN) --Twenty-seven new laws, including 13 Senate Bills (SB) authored by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and 14 House Bills (HB) that she sponsored during the 2009 legislative session will become effective on Sept. 1.

Eight focus on improving access to and the quality of state health and human services, always among Senator Zaffirini's highest legislative priorities. With the passage of SB 39, for example, Texans with life-threatening illnesses will be able to enroll in medical clinical trials with the hope of finding a cure while having their routine care costs covered by their health insurance.

Because insurance companies will be required to cover routine medical care, patients can participate in clinical trials without fear that their insurance companies will refuse to reimburse routine medical expenses or drop them completely from coverage.

With Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, Senator Zaffirini passed HB 806, the companion to her SB 26, to require group health insurance plans to provide coverage equal to Medicare benefit levels for prosthetic devices, thereby protecting medically insured Texans who lose a limb and otherwise could not afford their prosthetic devices.

Significant measures designed to enhance public safety also will become effective Sept. 1, including Senator Zaffirini's SB 61. The new law requires booster seats for children younger than eight, unless they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. It is expected to reduce by 59 percent children's risk of serious head, spinal cord or internal organ injuries due to adult seat belts.

Driver's license holders voluntarily can provide emergency contact information to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), as allowed by Senator Zaffirini's SB 652. Data will be used only to reach loved ones during emergencies, and it is expected that the database will reduce greatly time required to locate next-of-kin in an emergency and secure medical information needed for life-saving care.

The bill was suggested by Laredoan Sally Vasquez and sponsored by Rep. Stephen Frost, D-Atlanta.

"These new measures are the result of a successful legislative session," Senator Zaffirini said, "and I am grateful to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and my colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives for working to enact policies to benefit the families of SD 21 and our state."

Of the 65 bills that Senator Zaffirini passed in 2009, the 27 that will become effective on Sept. 1 are summarized below:

Information about these and other new laws is available via www.zaffirini.senate.state.tx.us or the Texas Legislative Reference Library, 512/463-1252.

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